Calgary·RECIPES

Bring midway food home for Stampede 2020

One of the things Calgarians are undoubtedly missing this first week of July is the midway food — deep-fried, stuffed and served on a stick.

Just a few fried, doughy, delicious things you can make in your own kitchen

To make a filling for black bean arepas, cook the green onions and garlic for a minute, then add the beans, spices, salt, lime and cilantro and heat through, mashing slightly with a fork. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

One of the things Calgarians are undoubtedly missing this first week of July is the midway food — deep-fried, stuffed and served on a stick.

If you're in need of your annual corn dog, or would like to try something more involved (but not extreme), here are a few fried, doughy, delicious things you can make at home.

Arepas

Try arepas at home. The masa patties are simple to cook on the stovetop, and you can get creative with all kinds of toppings and sauces, like grilled meats, pulled pork, stewed beans, eggs, cheese, shrimp, avocado and anything fresh and crunchy you would toss into a salad. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

Arepas are hugely popular in Colombia and Venezuela — a common pre-Colombian street food that's just as prevalent at kitchen tables.

In Calgary, Arepa Boss has become a popular food truck and farmers market destination (they're at the Crossroads Market every weekend), and in recent years, chef Xavier and Leah have offered their stuffed and stacked gluten-free Venezuelan arepas on the Stampede midway. 

They're well worth seeking out, but if you want to give arepas a try at home, the masa patties are simple to cook on the stovetop, and you can get creative with all kinds of toppings and sauces.

Here are a few suggestions, but feel free to experiment with smoked or grilled meats, pulled pork, stewed beans, eggs, cheese (try cotija, queso fresco or feta), shrimp, avocado, and anything fresh and crunchy you'd toss into a salad.

Ingredients:

1 cup masarepa (pre-cooked corn flour, such as PAN, Maseca or Goya)

¼ tsp. salt

1 cup water

canola or other mild vegetable oil, for cooking

shredded chicken, pork or beef, cooked shrimp, or beans (below)

Black beans (optional):

oil (or meat drippings), for cooking

2-3 green onions, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 14-oz. (398 ml) can black beans, drained

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

salt, to taste

a squeeze of lime

chopped cilantro

garlicky mayo, guacamole and/or chili oil, for serving

Black bean arepas are a popular Colombian dish. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

Preparation:

To make the arepas, combine the masarepa and salt in a bowl, add the water and stir until you have a soft dough.

If it's too dry (if the edges crack when you press it into a patty), add a bit more water. Some recipes call for 1¼ to1-1/3 cup water per cup of corn flour. Let it sit for 10 minutes or so, to allow the corn to absorb the liquid.

Take handfuls of dough and shape into a ball, then roll out about ¼- to ½-inch thick. (They can be any size you like.) Heat a drizzle of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook until deep golden on each side.

If you make them thicker, some people like to finish them in the oven for 10 minutes or so to help cook them through. They can also be cooked under the broiler or on a hot grill.

To make the beans, heat a drizzle of oil in a skillet, and cook the green onions and garlic for a minute, then add the beans, spices, salt, lime and cilantro. Heat through, mashing slightly with your fork, if you like. (Partially mashed beans tend to not roll around as much.)

Top your arepas with whatever you like, and drizzle with sauce.

Corn Dogs

You can make corn dogs that taste surprisingly like the ones you buy on the midway, with just some hot dogs, batter and cooking oil. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

No need to invest in a deep fryer to make corn dogs that taste surprisingly like the midway. All you need is a heavy, shallow pot on the stove and an inch or two of canola or another mild vegetable oil.

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal

¼ cup sugar

1½ tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1¼ cups buttermilk

1 egg, beaten

1 package hot dogs

canola oil, for frying

wooden sticks — bamboo skewers, popsicle sticks or chopsticks

Corn dogs are a relatively easy Stampede-themed treat to cook up at home. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

Preparation:

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the middle, and add the buttermilk and egg, and whisk until well blended.

In a deep, heavy pot, heat enough oil to accommodate the corn dogs until it's hot, but not smoking.

You'll know when it's hot enough by dipping in a piece of bread or a bit of cornmeal batter — it should start sizzling right away. If the oil is too cool, they will take too long to cook and will absorb too much oil, making them heavy.

Stick a wooden stick into the end of each hot dog (cut them in half first if you like), and dip them in the cornmeal batter to coat. Place them no more than two at a time (you don't want to crowd the pot, or it will cool down your oil) into the hot oil, and turn them as they need it until they are golden.

When they are nice and golden, they are done. The hot dogs should be well heated, but since they are already cooked, you don't have to worry about properly cooking them all the way through. 

Remove with tongs and set aside on paper towels.

Makes about a dozen corn dogs.

Deep Fried Mac & Cheese

Deep fried mac & cheese is so easy to make, just cut cubes of cooled mac & cheese, roll in dough and lightly fry in a bit of oil. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

Anything that will congeal in the fridge can be crumbed and deep-fried: mac & cheese, artichoke dip, pimento cheese.

Cool it until it's solid, then roll in a shallow dish of beaten eggs and another of dry crumbs (or bashed Doritos) and fry in an inch or two of canola or other mild vegetable oil on the stovetop — no need for a deep fryer.

Ingredients:

prepared mac & cheese (any recipe, or boxed)

1-2 eggs

fine dry breadcrumbs, Panko, or finely crushed Doritos

canola or other mild vegetable oil, for cooking

Preparation:

Prepare your favourite recipe for mac & cheese. Pour into a loaf pan or square baking dish and refrigerate until cold.

Run a thin knife around the edge and invert the congealed mac & cheese onto a cutting board and cut into squares. Crack an egg or two into a shallow dish or pie plate and mix with a fork. Put some dry breadcrumbs or crushed Doritos into another shallow dish.

Heat about an inch and a half of oil in a heavy, shallow pot over medium-high heat until it's hot but not smoking. (If you have a thermometer, go for about 350 F.)

Roll the cubes of mac & cheese around in the egg to coat, and then in the crumbs, and lower gently into the hot oil. Cook for a few minutes, turning with tongs or a slotted spoon, until deep golden. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain and cool slightly before eating.

Makes as many pieces as you like.

Bharazi Stuffed Mandazi

Bharazi is an East African coconut curry made with pigeon peas, traditionally served with coconut doughnuts called mandazi. Combining the two into bharazi-stuffed mandazi is a perfect midway-style snack. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

As everything is going virtual this year, the organizers of the annual Ismaili Muslim Stampede Breakfast released their recipe for bharazi, an East African coconut curry made with pigeon peas, which they typically serve with pancakes to 5,000 people at their annual event. 

The breakfast dish is traditionally served with coconut doughnuts called mandazi, and Al-Karim Walli suggests combining the two to make bharazi-stuffed mandazi—a perfect midway combination (that happens to be vegan!) reminiscent of one of the city's favourite Stampede events.

Watch Rosie walk us through making bharazi in her home and below is the recipe she shared, with a few notes from me.

The mandazi recipe is just slightly adapted from Noorbanu Nimji and Karen Anderson's cookbook, A Spicy Touch.

Bharazi

Ingredients:

¼ cup oil

½ cup diced onions

½ cup blended tomato (or puree)

½ tsp. garlic paste (I used 1 crushed clove)

1 tbsp. green chutney (jalapeño and cilantro blended together — I used a finely chopped tablespoon of each)

¼ tsp. turmeric

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. citric acid (I used a squeeze of lime juice)

2 15-oz. cans pigeon peas, drained

½ cup coconut milk

½ cup evaporated milk 

cilantro, for garnish

Preparation:

To make the bharazi, set a large skillet or shallow pot over medium heat, and heat the oil. Add the onions and cook until transparent. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic and chutney. Add the turmeric, salt and citric acid and stir well.

Stir in the pigeon peas and coconut milk, and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a simmer, add the evaporated milk. Allow the pigeon peas to slowly simmer before stirring in the cilantro.

Mandazi

Mandazi are a coconut doughnut that can be made in any size, eaten plain or stuffed with fillings. (Fakiha Baig/CBC)

Ingredients:

½ cup warm water

½ tsp. sugar

½ tsp. active dry or instant yeast

50 g creamed coconut, softened

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

¼-½ tsp. ground green cardamom

¼ tsp. salt

sunflower or canola oil, for frying

Preparation:

Place the warm water in a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer, if you have a dough hook) and sprinkle with the sugar and yeast. If it's not instant, or if you want to make sure it's active, let it dissolve and foam. If it doesn't foam, you likely need fresh yeast.

Add the creamed coconut, flour, sugar, cardamom and salt and knead for several minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover and let sit overnight (on the countertop is fine).

Divide the dough into three pieces and roll each into a six-inch circle. Cut each circle into four pieces. Heat an inch or two of oil in a shallow pot over medium-high heat, and when it's hot, but not smoking (if you have a thermometer, it should read about 350-375 F), cook the doughnuts in batches, flipping as needed, until deep golden.

Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

When they're cool enough to handle, split the mandazi open and fill with bharazi. (Or serve them together.) 

Makes 12 bharazi-stuffed mandazi, with leftovers.

Listen to Julie's full interview on the Calgary Eyeopener here:

Our food guide Julie van Rosendaal talks about the best kind of food to serve on a stick. 7:45

About the Author

Julie Van Rosendaal

Calgary Eyeopener's food guide

Julie Van Rosendaal talks about food trends, recipes and cooking tips on the Calgary Eyeopener every Tuesday at 8:20 a.m. MT. The best-selling cookbook author is a contributing food editor for the Globe and Mail, and writes for other publications across Canada.

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